Manhunt 2 Controversy Hangs On by Bloody Thread as Senators Demand ESRB Re-rating (Updated)

By Chris Remo and Carlos Bergfeld, Nov 20, 2007 3:45pm PST Update: A Nintendo representative has returned Shacknews' request for comment on the issue with a statement defending the ESRB's rating of Rockstar's Manhunt 2 on the Wii as a mature title.

"Manhunt 2 is not developed or published by Nintendo," the statement reads. "It is one of many titles released by third-party publishers for our system that appeal to people of all ages and interests. Just as with movies, television and books, different video games appeal to--and are appropriate for--different audiences."

The statement goes on to encourage parents to make use of the ESRB ratings when purchasing titles for their children, as well as to activate the Wii's parental control features. It also emphasizes the need for retailers to abide by the ratings when selling games to minors. But it also stresses that video games as a medium should not be limited to children's titles.

"Nintendo is committed to serving the tastes of all gamers, just as it has always been," the statement says. "Currently 14 Wii games have been rated M by the ESRB. The average game player is 33 years old."

Original story: Though it seemed as if the controversy surrounding Rockstar's Manhunt 2 (PS2, Wii, PSP) was largely dead and buried, the game is back in the news again as a bipartisan group of U.S. senators is once again calling for a re-rating by the ESRB. The game was originally rated Adults Only by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, modified by Rockstar, and re-rated M for Mature before hitting store shelves last month.

The request was made via a letter to the ESRB, North America's voluntary game content rating organization. The letter was signed by presidential hopeful and current Democratic primary frontrunner Hillary Clinton (D-NY), former 2008 presidential candidate Sam Brownback (R-KS), 2004 presidential candidate Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Evan Bayh (D-IN).

"We ask your consideration of whether it is time to review the robustness, reliability and repeatability of your ratings process, particularly for this genre of 'ultraviolent' video games and the advances in game controllers," reads the letter, which takes issue with the game's current M rating. "We have consistently urged parents to pay attention to the ESRB rating system. We must ensure that parents can rely on the consistency and accuracy of those ratings."

A response from the ESRB is expected. Shacknews has also contacted platform holder Nintendo; the Wii version of Manhunt 2 has often been singled out as being particularly violently tinged due to its motion-based control scheme.

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